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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Nervous but Good

Yesterday was my first day of class for the Fall semester.
I am taking ASL iii. I have to admit, I was a little
nervous. Everything is similar to last semester but not
exactly the same. When you are deaf-blind, even the
smallest changes can make life difficult.
I already know my professor. She went to school with my
brother and they became friends. I talked to her a few
times last year. That helped me some but I still had
worries. I don't know her as a teacher. I'm in a
different room this year. I would be meeting two new
interpreters. Would I be able to understand them? And the
really big question - would the transporation service get me
to the right place?
It all worked out just fine. I made it where I needed to
be. The interpreters and my professor were great. I knew
one student in the class from ASL ii so I already had a
"friend" to work with. It was almost perfect.
I do have one complaint. The driver who brought me home was
too motherly and fussy. She helped me so much that she
actually made it harder for me to get on and off the bus. I
was just moving off the last step of the bus. As I shifted
my weight off the step, she suddenly grabbed my arm and
pulled it off the rail. I nearly fell. What a careless
thing for her to do. Luckily, I wasn't hurt. But she did
put me in a dangerous situation for a moment.
Yesterday wasn't bad. What really had me nervous was my
plans for today. It would be my first solo trip to the
Speech Building. That meant going through the construction.
I was not worried at first. I was trained in mobility how
to get through that area. I was ready for the construction.
What scared me was that the transporation service insisted
on the pone that the entrance I needed was blocked and they
would take me to a different door. I don't think so! We
told them it was possible to get through those doors and
that they really needed to take me to that entrance. I
would never be able to get around the building if they took
me to the wrong starting point.
When I got on the bus today, I had no idea what to expect.
That had me so nervous. Before getting off the bus, I asked
the driver if this was the old main doorway with the tunnel
through the construction. He tapped my hand to say "yes."
I only hoped he really understood and had me at the right
place.
I was pleased when I smelled wood and the driver guided me
onto a ramp. I was sure I was on the tunnel ramp. That
help to calm my nerves.
I went inside and started down the hall. Things didn't
seem right. The bench was there but I had to pass many open
doors. I don't even remember there being doors near the
theater. I missed the counter of the coat check area.
That's my landmark to cross the hall to the Hearing Clinic.
I was planning to use the bathroom first so I'd need to
walk further down the hall, anyway.
Panic set in. This wasn't right. Were the wall supposed to
be brick or smooth? What were all these open doors? Then I
came to a drinking fountain. If I was in the correct
place, that would be my landmark to cross to the bathroom.
I crossed the hall and my cane hit a newspaper rack. I
don't remember that being there before. I had no idea where
I was or what to do. I just kept walking. I touched the
wall and felt the braille sign that identifies the handicap
restroom. Was this the right restroom or was it just
another one set up the same way somewhere else in the
building?
After I took care of my business, I continued down the hall.
I stumbled over several students who were sitting on the
floor. I thought about asking them for help. Before
starting possible awkward conversation, I wanted to make
sure I definitely needed to. I didn't yet know for sure if
I was really lost.
Further down the hall, my cane hit the carpet that is the
rug in front of the Hearing Clinic. I was so relieved! I
was never even lost. I guess I was just uncertain with the
new building. Or maybe my nerves got the best of me.
I went into the clinic and followed the wall until it took
me to the receptionist desk. I put out my hand and said,
"If anyone is there, please tap me." Someone did. I then
told her who I was and why I was there. I was 30 minutes
early. I told her if she guided me to a chair, I'd wait
until my appointment time. She did that, too.
Several moments later, my audiologist came out and
identified herself. She is very shaky with fingerspelling.
I told her I had a new communicator and pulled out the DBC.
It was much easier for her to talk to me using the
Face-to-Face program on the DBC.
She offered to start my appointment early using the DBC for
communication until my interpreters arrived. Since she
seemed comfortable with the device, I agreed. It was
amazing how this new little machine makes things so much
easier in situations like this. We did very well with the
DBC but switched to ASL once my interpreters showed up.
I'm home now and have the chance to reflect on what
happened today. I was scared going into all of this. I was
facing several new challenges but I was determined to make
it work. I wouldn't let my fear stop me. I succeeded with
transporation and mobility. I had a great experience with
the DBC. In the end, it was a pretty good day.

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